CFM International is convincingly winning the two-horse race to power Airbus A320neo-family aircraft. More than 2,500 of the re-engined narrowbodies on order are set to have engines from the GE Aviation and Safran joint venture, compared with just over 1,800 for rival Pratt & Whitney.

In addition, CFM's Leap-1A enjoys an almost 3:2 advantage over its US competitor's PW1100G when it comes to deliveries to date – 208 Leap-powered aircraft are in service, while the figure for the PW1100G is just 140, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.

However, a production hiatus this year – Airbus only resumed deliveries of PW1100G-powered Neos at the end of April, after an eight-week delay caused by teething troubles with the geared turbofan – may be at least partly to blame for the gap. In February, P&W disclosed that 43 engines in service, plus a further 55 delivered to Airbus's assembly lines, were affected by an issue relating to a knife-edge seal in the high-pressure compressor.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that by 25 June – the date our snapshot was taken – there were 2,535 Neos on order with the CFM engine, and 1,829 with PW1100Gs. The one consolation for the United Technologies subsidiary is that there is still plenty to play for: there are 3,237 on-order A320neo-family aircraft for which no engine supplier has yet been announced.

Another piece of good news for P&W is that Airbus restored powerplant parity in May – handing over 22 aircraft, equally split between the two engine manufacturers. CFM and P&W engines were each fitted to five A320neos and six A321neos. However, by the end of that month almost 80% of all A320neo-family jets handed to customers this year had Leap-1A engines.


The A320neo family is the one narrowbody launched in the past decade where the customer is offered an engine choice between two "Western" engines. CFM is the exclusive supplier on the Boeing 737 Max (as it was on its 737NG predecessor with the CFM56) and Comac C919, while versions of the PW1000 family power the Bombardier CSeries (now part of the Airbus single-aisle portfolio, as the A220) as well as the Embraer E2 and Mitsubishi Regional Jet. The Irkut MC-21 does give customers the option of the P&W engine or a Russian-designed Aviadvigatel PD-14.

With the help of Flight Fleets Analyzer, we have also examined the types of missions that the fleets of two early A320neo-family operators – one a Leap customer, the other with PW1100G power – have been undertaking.

Scandinavian airline SAS has 18 A320neos in its fleet, having taken delivery of its first in October 2016, and has 65 on order. It made its most recent commitment – for 50 aircraft – in April. Although it has not yet selected an engine for the follow-on order, its 18 narrowbodies in service, plus 12 still to be delivered, have (or will have) the Leap-1A.

Indian carrier IndiGo is one of the carriers whose deliveries and operations have been disrupted by the problems with the PW1100G. It inducted its first A320neo in March 2016 and now has 35 in service, with another 395 A320/321neos on order.

Our graph showing monthly aircraft usage indicates that, after notching up about 14,000min per aircraft in November 2016, utilisation more than halved to around 6,000min, although this was likely to have been a result of the first new aircraft coming on stream.

By April last year, monthly usage had reached around 17,000min and it hovered around that level until October when – presumably as a result of the summer season ending – it began to drop to a level around 12,000min, where it remained for the rest of the winter.

IndiGo, which already had an established A320neo fleet by the time of our comparison's beginning in October 2016, has been fairly constant at between 15,000min and just under 18,000min, dropping to just over 13,000min in September 2017. Usage then rose to a new peak of just under 20,000min in the first month of this year, but fell to around 13,000min in March.

Our flight-length comparisons make for a fascinating contrast. While the duration of each IndiGo A320neo service has been consistent each month since October 2016, at 80-90min, SAS's monthly average shot from under 70min in the first five months to a peak of around 140min in July 2017 – the most popular month for Mediterranean holiday flights. It then settled down to a steady average of around 100min for the following eight months.

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Source: Flight Daily News